Seat Filler: NYC Theater Guide for October 2009
BY Brandon Voss
October 15 2009 9:15 AM ET
Represented on Broadway this season with Oleanna and Race, David Mamet takes a break from his usual macho, profanity-spewing straight characters to have a gay ol’ time in Two Unrelated Plays by David Mamet at Atlantic Theater Company’s Linda Gross Theater through November 1. In the first and shorter one-act, School, two elementary school teachers verbally spar in typical Mametian fashion. But Keep Your Pantheon, the shticky second act that recalls A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, follows the comic homoerotic misadventures of an acting troupe in ancient Rome. Broadway vet Brian Murray goes all out as Strabo, a lecherous old thespian who lusts after his untalented male protégé Philius. Reprising the role he played opposite Modern Family star Ed O’Neill’s Strabo in an L.A. production last summer, Michael Cassidy fills the young himbo’s skimpy toga to perfection. I actually had a big crush on Cassidy when he starred on The O.C. as Summer’s boyfriend Zach.
I also thought Malcolm Gets was pretty cute on Caroline in the City, but I’m not so sure I’d pay to see him in a toga. You can, however, see him in Morris Panych’s two-person comedy Vigil through November 29 at the DR2 Theatre. The out actor stars as Kemp, an eccentric, insensitive loner who visits his elderly aunt, an almost completely silent character played by stage vet Helen Stenborg, to settle her affairs after learning that her days are numbered. Much to his dismay, the old gal hangs on for a year. A fun twist at the end doesn’t make up for the tiresome “monologue, morbid death joke, blackout” format of the show’s brief 37 scenes, but Panych gets points for randomly making Kemp, who resents his aunt for not fulfilling his Auntie Mame fantasies, an asexual virgin with cross-dressing tendencies. “Oh, I’ve felt an attraction for certain people in the past,” Kemp tells his aunt on Halloween. “Both women and men. Once you take off the masks, they’re all the same, aren’t they? Needy little children underneath.”
In desperate need of a better, briefer show, I hopped across the street to the Vineyard Theatre. That’s where Colman Domingo, star of Logo’s The Big Gay Sketch Show and Broadway’s Passing Strange (as well as Spike Lee’s film adaptation), is going solo with A Boy and His Soul through November 1. With style, smoothness, and stage presence to spare, Domingo spins his tale of growing up as a gay African-American in 1970s and ’80s Philadelphia by digging through the crates of soul, R&B, and disco records that spun his wacky family right ’round, baby, right ’round. Too bad there’s not much plot or conflict here -- even his coming-out story, while sweet, is rather unremarkable -- but if nothing else, Domingo’s 90-minute monologue is a painless excuse to chair-dance and even sing along to a few forgotten classics.